LEVEL PLAYING FIELD They are worried that extra marks for state students will work against them during college admissions
The school education department’s decision to relax eligibility criteria for sports marks, and award additional marks to students excelling in folk and visual arts, will make it easier for students to score better in the Maharashtra state board exams.
However, students of nonstate boards such as ISCE, CBSE and international boards are worried that the education department’s decision will lower their chances of getting into colleges of their choice and tilt the field in favour of SSC and HSC students. Hence, non-state board students now want this concession as well.
The policy of awarding 10 to 25 extra marks in Class 10, 12 exams is restricted to the SSC and HSC students, giving them an advantage over their counterparts in other boards. Non-state board schools were earlier unperturbed by this as the number of students availing the extra marks was limited last year.
In 2016, it was mandatory for students to win national competitions and take part in international ones to qualify for the highest marks. Similarly, students winning nationals got 20 marks.
The recent change in rules for awarding the marks, however, will lead to more students claiming it and eventually, to inflation of marks. It could affect the chances of students from other boards in securing admissions to colleges of their choice. School principals said that CBSE and ICSE boards are not offering any such concessions to their students.
“CBSE is not giving us any extra credits this year,” said Raj Aloni, principal, Ram Sheth Thakur Public School, Kharghar. “This year, the board’s focus is on academic alone, but it means that our students will lose out to state board students,” he added.
Awarding additional marks only for sports and cultural activities is equally unfair to students who might not possess these skills, argued students. “The state board syllabus is vast and demanding, so many students choose to concentrate on academics only, and don’t pursue extra-curricular activities,” said Priyanka Bagade, who was one of the ICSE toppers last year, and has switched to the state board this year. “It is unfair that while we have to work hard to earn these marks, other students will get them without any effort,” she added.
On other hand, another group of educators and officials point out that the extra marks are the board’s way of encouraging students to go beyond academics. “Many students spend their school life devoted to arts and sports, so it is important to reward them for going the extra mile,” said Suvarna Kharat, deputy secretary of the department.
State-board principals added that unless students are given additional marks, most parents ask them to give up on these activities during exams.